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You know our products and maybe our culture. But what about the people behind the scenes?
 
Today I’m happy to kick-off Inside Atlassian Minds, an interview series that will shed a little light into the work and lives of individual staff members.
 
The first Atlassian staff interview is with Donna, our Support Diva. She has been solving support issues for 84 dog years. Here’s a teaser:
 

Q: Do you contribute code to Atlassian products?
 
A: Contributed code twice. Broke the build [code] once. Instant messages from co-workers telling me that I did so, priceless.

 
Read the entire interview and expect more to come.
 
P.S. Wondering what spurred this interview series? As you may have heard, at Atlassian we have periodic ShipIt Days. This means the development teams get to spend 1-1/2 days every so often on pet projects. This past quarter us marketers decided to participate too. (Thanks Jon!)
 

Interview with Donna, Atlassian Support Diva

Note: Since completing this interview, Donna has moved from San Francisco to Sydney. She works in the local office and continues to be our Support Diva.

THE MORE “PROFESSIONAL” SIDE

*You’ve been working in tech support for years. Why did you decide this profession? How does it compare to your past work lives?*
In support years (same as dog years), I’ve been doing the support “thang” for 84 years (12 human years). I didn’t choose support. Support chose me. I do enjoy working with our customers, feeling their pain, fixing it and, if necessary, politely (winks) asking the Atlassian dev team for their assistance. Compared to my past work life as a javelin catcher, support ROCKS!
 
*How many issues have you resolved since day 1 at Atlassian?*
466 Issues @ support.atlassian.com.
1,396 Phone calls.
2,130 Live chats.
 
*You’ve been crowned Atlassian’s “Support Diva.” Any comment?*
Champagne support wishes to all of my adoring fans. I love you my darlings!

 
*In all your days of Atlassian support, what’s the most outrageous thing a customer has told you (be it via chat, phone or email)?*
Due to the pending court case, I’m afraid I’m unable to comment on that. 😉
 
*Complete the sentence: “I know I’m in for some hardcore problem-solving when a support issue includes ____ in the title or description.”*
Honestly, it’s usually the attached logs that tell the tale.
 
*How do you interact with the product development teams when resolving product issues?*
The best interaction usually involves large quantities of alcohol. Given the fact that the dev team currently resides in Sydney, interaction usually involves begging via instant messenger. Atlassian has a top-notch development team that really cares about quality. I can’t wait to see what improvements and features are added over the next year.
 
*Do you contribute code to Atlassian products? If yes: At Atlassian, you get a little note that says you’ve broken the code when appropriate. Approx. how many times have you received that note (or ping, rather, seeing you’re in SF)?*
Contributed code twice. Broke the build (code) once. Instant messages from co-workers telling me that I did so, priceless.
 
*Do you have a favourite Atlassian product? If so, why is it number one?*
That’s like asking if I have a favorite boyfriend!
 
*If you could change one thing in one any product (Atlassian or other), what would that be and why?*
Developers are familiar with the term self-documenting code. I think the key to any brilliant web app is self-documenting UI. In the future, I think we need to do a better job of this, especially for those who install/administer our products.
 
*Do you get tired of looking at a computer screen all day?*
Depends on the view really.
 
*What application drives you nuts?*
Back in the day, Lotus 1-2-3. Now, vi.
 
*What app makes work so much easier?*
iTunes gives me a warm fuzzy during the work day. :p
 
*You’re San Francisco Support Team Lead. What advice would you give to anyone who is beginning a job in support? What about fellow people already in support?*
I want to say “Run!” but I’ll resist the temptation. Support engineers are a strange, yet wonderful breed. My advice? Every problem has a solution. Some solutions are more popular than others. Be honest and keep your sense of humor.
 
*What’s a ‘best practice’ you’ve adopted by working at Atlassian? How do you recommend someone goes about learning that process?*
As an Atlassian employee, there are no limits. Thought of a way to improve a process or product? Need to share a customer’s pain with the team? Have an opinion about anything Atlassian? Blog it. Is your idea popular? Make it happen.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

*What type of person are you: Dog or cat? Mac or pc?*
Dog (allergic to cats). Mac.
 
*What’s your drink of choice?*
Depending on the work day, Vitamin Water OR a good glass of wine.
 
*On which continents have you stepped beyond airport doors?*
Asia, Australia, North America, Africa.
 
*Do you find it difficult to be a woman in the technology industry?*
Actually, the bathroom lines are MUCH shorter.
 
*What’s currently at the top of your ‘must accomplish this lifetime’ list?*
Qualify for the Boston Marathon.
 
*Would you like to add anything else? Please don’t be shy.*
As the brilliant mind of Andrew Miles Pillot once said, “Great humor takes great risk.” That is all.
 
Thanks for your time, Diva! 🙂

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